Darryl Dawkins, the NBA legend affectionately known as "Chocolate Thunder," has died. He was 58.
The former basketball star died Thursday at a hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania of an apparent heart attack, according to his family. Officials will perform an autopsy on Friday.
"Darryl touched the hearts and spirits of so many with his big smile and personality, ferocious dunks, but more than anything, his huge, loving heart," his family said in a statement.
Dawkins was selected No. 5 in the 1975 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, becoming the first high school player to be selected in the first round. Known for his backboard-breaking monster dunks, he went on to play with the New Jersey Nets, Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons before heading overseas to play in Italy.
He also did a brief stint with the Harlem Globetrotters during its 1994-95 season.
"The NBA family is heartbroken by the sudden and tragic passing of Darryl Dawkins," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "We will always remember Darryl for his incredible talent, his infectious enthusiasm and his boundless generosity. He played the game with passion, integrity and joy, never forgetting how great an influence he had on his legions of fans, young and old."
(Photo: AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos, File)